February 2014

There is one ornament common to men and women – forgiveness. – Chinmaya

The ornaments are of two types: the outer – made of gold, diamond etc., and the inner – consisting of noble virtues.

While the outer ornaments vary from place to place, differ from person to person and undergo change from time to time, the inner ornaments had been, and will ever be the same for all ages to come, irrespective of caste, creed, culture, gender, age, nationality or religion.

While the former enhances only the physical beauty, the latter transforms the entire personality. While the former makes the person feel unsafe and insecure, the latter bestows unto the possessor freedom and joy. Again, while the former attracts only the selfish and the self-centred, the latter attracts to oneself the noble and the virtuous.

Unlike the outer, the inner ornaments alone remain with us, here and hereafter, as a permanent inseparable possession.

Thus to conclude, while the outer ornaments remain as mere valuables, the inner ornaments alone are valued, revered, and glorified world over.

The above quote speaks of one of the greatest inner ornaments – the ability to forgive.

True forgiveness is born out of the right understanding of the oneness of the Self. Here the offender’s offence is forgiven and forgotten just as we forgive and forget the bitings of our teeth on our own tongue.

In Srimad Bhagavatham comes the story of Prahlada, one of the greatest devotees of the Lord Vishnu. When his father, Hiranyakashipu, the Asura Emperor, who considered Lord Vishnu as his arch-enemy, failed in all his attempts to ‘reform’ his son, he finally decided to kill him.

The boy, who was just five years old, was struck on vital parts with tridents, trampled by elephants, bitten by serpents, attacked through black magic, rolled down from the mountain peaks, smashed by rocks, buried under the earth, drowned in the ocean, burned in the fire, starved, poisoned and exposed to extreme weather conditions. But the child-devotee ever remained

unharmed, under the protection of the Lord.

After killing Hiranyakashipu, the Lord, in the form of Narasimha (Man-lion), pleased with his beloved devotee, pressed him to ask for a boon. Prahlada then made this humble submission, “O Lord, I seek but one favour. By Thy grace, may my father be purified from these gross sins that cannot be expiated in any way.”

One who forgives benefits the most from that kindly act. A forgiving heart becomes free from the poisonous fumes of anger, hatred and revenge, which otherwise makes one’s own life miserable and unlivable.

When Ashwathama (the son of Dronacharya) murdered the five sleeping sons of Draupadi in the darkness of the night, Arjuna chased him, fought with him, caught him, and tying him like an animal, dragged him and threw him at the feet of weeping and wailing Draupadi.

But to the utter shock of all present there, Draupadi prostrated at the feet of Ashwathama and said, “Being the son of our teacher to whom we are debted forever, you too are worshipful.”

“Moreover,” remarked the noble lady to others who were fuming with anger, “I don’t want his mother to undergo the same pain, which I am undergoing at present.”

Though drenched in the tears of bereavement, she asked Arjuna to untie him, and allowed him to go.

Sometimes, the so-called forgiveness is nothing but cowardice in disguise.

Once four ants were passing along a narrow road, and they saw an elephant coming from the other direction. The first one roared, “Come on! Let’s kill this elephant.” The second one said, “No, let’s only break his leg.” The third one opined, “Why not just throw him out of the way?” The fourth one requested, “Let’s allow him to go. You see, it’s unfair; we are four, and he is all alone.”

Forgiveness, born out of our incapacity to retaliate against a powerful opponent, is no forgiveness at all.

Seeking forgiveness is as important a virtue as the ability to forgive. Only the one who possesses a broad mind to admit one’s faults and the humility to apologise will seek forgiveness.

A learned Professor of repute engaged a class at the University. Having delivered an introduction to the topic, he pointed to one of the students and asked him to read aloud from the text.

The student arose and began to read, holding his book in the left hand. “That’s not the way to behave in the class,” said the Professor sharply. “Hold the book in your right hand and be seated.”

The student stopped reading. After a moment or two, he silently held up his right arm – he did not have a right hand!

The class grew strangely silent. Everyone felt uncomfortable and pained. The Professor sat still,

dumbfounded. Then he rose from his seat and walked slowly down to where the young man stood. He put his arm around him and said with tears in his eyes, “I am truly sorry. I have spoken in haste. Will you forgive me?”

To err is human; to blame someone else is equally human. To forgive is divine; to seek forgiveness is equally divine. May we use forgiveness as a precious lubricant in our lives which keeps all our relationships smooth and friction-free.

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Posted in: Chintana

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